Tuesday, October 16, 2018

On video: Israeli forces shoot Palestinian woman at close range


By Mike J.C. - December 30, 2013
TAGS:
Section: [Main News] [Videos] [Life under Occupation]
Tags: [Nabi Saleh] [Israeli army]

On Friday, 27 December, during a weekly demonstration in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, an Israeli soldier shot a female activist in the legs from a few meters away. Several others were injured, and many homes were damaged with a 'skunk water’ cannon. 

Video footage shows the woman approaching a group of soldiers and their armored jeep. She was just steps away when the shot rings out and a burst of dust explodes around her legs and feet. Moments later, a medic is seen cutting away her jeans to show her wounded ankle and a massive welt on her knee.

The woman is Manal Tamimi, mother of four and currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in International Law. She is also a long-time activist and organizer, one of the leading figures of the village’s popular resistance committee. 

In a short interview with the Palestine Monitor, Manal explained that she was approaching the soldiers to demand that they stop firing teargas in the direction of Sa’eed Tamimi’s home, where his elderly mother Fatma, who suffered a paralyzing stroke earlier in the year, would likely succumb to suffocation from the excessive use of the noxious gas.

“I was shocked, of course, because I didn’t expect him to shoot, and he gave no warning,” Manal said over the phone on Sunday.

She suffered painful injury to her legs and hairline fractures when she was hit with four shots, two near her right ankle and two near her left knee. According to local activists, the weapon used in the attack fires bursts of up to fifteen plastic-coated metal bearings at a time. She believes that her long boots, worn over her jeans, saved her from suffering worse injury. She was taken to the hospital by ambulance and released later in the day.

Manal also expressed frustration about international perceptions: “I would say to the people of the world that everybody is supporting Israel and calls Palestinians the terrorists. But the reality here is the opposite.”

The small village of Nabi Saleh and scores of other sites across the West Bank have been waging an unarmed struggle against the continued loss of land to expanding Israeli settlements, an annexation and displacement process facilitated by the Israeli military and its massive separation barrier. During clashes that invariably erupt during the demonstrations, village youth frequently hurl stones at the invading forces, and many have come to view the stone as the symbol of their resistance, as it was during the First Intifada of 1987-1991.

According to international law, all Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which have been occupied by the Israeli military occupation since 1967, are illegal.  In 2004, the International Court of Justice ruled that the separation barrier being constructed on Palestinian land, and annexing much of it to the settlements, is also illegal. 

The people of Nabi Saleh committed to weekly demonstrations four years ago when they adopted the “popular struggle” model set by numerous other villages confronting the wall and settlements. And like many other villages, Nabi Saleh has paid a high price for its struggle to persist. In addition to chronic weekly injuries and property damage, the Israeli army also shot dead Rushdi Tamimi with live ammunition in 2012, and killed Mustafa Tamimi by firing a teargas canister into his face at close range in 2011. Rushdi and Mustafa were Manal’s cousins. The village is fortunate Manal did not become the latest martyr. 

In addition to Manal’s shooting and the usual injuries from tear gas inhalation, two reporters were also injured, and the army inflicted a deplorable form of collective punishment on one of the village’s main streets. 

After the demonstration was over, dozens of locals and activists, and numerous homes and yards, were sprayed down with a foul liquid that leaves an irrepressible stench like rotten food and sewage. 

The Palestine Monitor witnessed the post-demonstration deluge from the large armored vehicle, known as the 'skunk truck,’ with its industrial swivel hose mounted on the top, spraying high velocity jets of 'skunk water’ up to fifty or sixty meters. 

Accompanied by military vehicles, the skunk truck rolled into the village and seemed to head directly and purposefully for one particular home. It was the house Manal had been trying to prevent from teargas bombardment earlier in the day. 

Locals have no doubt the home was deliberately targeted because its owner, Sa’eed Tamimi, who had been in an Israeli prison for twenty years, was expected to be released on the Monday following the demonstration (the release comes as part of a large four-phase prisoner release deal tied to the current round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.) 

When Palestinians are released from Israeli jails, especially long-time prisoners, celebrations usually follow at the homes of the released. Skunking the house and yard seemed to be an Israeli effort to dampen the pending celebrations. The skunk truck had not been seen in the village for four or five months.

Several people, including youth, women, and children, tried to obstruct the path of the massive vehicle with their bodies as it advanced, but they were no match for the high-pressure skunk cannon. Dozens were drenched or sprayed, along with numerous other homes in the truck’s path as it came and went. 

“People around the world should look at Palestinians as human beings,” Manal told the Palestine Monitor. “We have the right to live as human beings as any person in the whole world. And we have the right to defend ourselves and our homes. No one can stop us. We’ll keep resisting until we have our freedom, even if they kill us as they killed two of us, our martyrs, and we’ll fight until we have our freedom.”

To learn more about life in Nabi Saleh and hear more of Manal in her own words, watch “A Short Visit with Manal Tamimi.

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